Cover of Noise by Kahneman

Kahneman has done some great research, and it is a tragedy that such useful research is represented by such poor writing. This book is a slog. The authors are still defining the titular “noise” come page 72. I do not know which of the three is to blame for this travesty (I’m generally inclined to point a finger in the direction of the editor), but this book is inexcusably long and laborious. I do not recall having such a hard time with “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, but as I am in no position to hold anyone directly accountable, I will not belabor blame. I will belabor the tragedy of bad writing.

The academic world has a problem reaching non-academic audiences. Scientists, for example, are so notoriously bad at communicating that there is now a job title, “science communicator”, specifically to bridge the gap. When you are doing research of great value to society, it is of little use if no one learns about it. Conversely, it is of great use if your findings enter the public consciousness. If your research involves human behavior and our propensity to make potentially dangerous or expensive mistakes, its value is directly related to how many people learn how to correct for them. And that value is potentially huge. This is not purely academic research; this is practical knowledge that has the potential to improve society. To lock it up in such a clumsy book is irresponsible.

So if you want to extract the nuggets of gold from this pile of rock, you may slog, skim, or suffer through it for there is gold in this tome.